Moving on the Ranch – 5/15/2019

Moving Forward

Willis and Joan sitting on big balls at dining table with view
Our view to infinity while working core strength
Joan hanging from a tree branch
Joan hanging from a tree branch

Moving forward can occur in a variety of ways. We can move our bodies physically forward across the planet. We can move our way of thinking into new possibilities. And, we can choose to move dynamically into each new year of our lives. My husband, Willis, and I share 48 contiguous hours of celebration each year on our birthdays – which just happen to be this month. We get to celebrate two days in a row because he was born two years and two minutes before me! He was born and raised in Hollywood, California – a real city boy. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon – a country girl through and through. We met in southern California at a Parents Without Partners dance in 1972 and, as they say, “The rest is history.” Our combined families include four amazing children and eight awesome grandchildren.

Moving in Nature

Joan climbing tree
Climbing tree

One of the things we love doing together is hiking. Growing up Willis’ family used to spend time every summer in Yosemite for hiking, fishing, and swimming.. Growing up, my family always vacationed somewhere in remote nature for hiking, fishing, horseback riding and swimming. Our families loved to move in nature thereby instilling a love for movement and natural environments. As a result, this was the foundation for our love of hiking the National Parks.

Another fallen tree with Willis balancing
Willis’ Balance Practice

Center for Moving

Willis was an information technology and ride control engineer from Disney and I was an elder law and estate planning attorney. Because of our history of nature and hiking, when we began to contemplate retirement, we were drawn to the mountains near a small village in southern California. It is next door to a National Forest with lots of hiking trails and the beach is 30 minutes away. We found our dream – a 10-acre undeveloped forest on the side of a mountain – and named it Centripetal Ranch. Centripetal means “moving or tending to move toward a center.” And that was our intention – this would be our center for family and friends and moving. Every day we say “Just another day in paradise,” like Tom Selleck in the old TV series Magnum P.I.

Trail Moving

Fallen tree as natural balance beam
Natural balance beam

Shortly after moving in, Willis began creating a series of hiking trails throughout our forest.Being on a mountainside, there were lots of uphills and downhills. As time went by, branches and trees would occasionally fall and we would use them as “features” on our trails. They make wonderful balance beams and step-up/step-down venues. Consequently, all of this was perfect to keep us moving.

Parcourse Moving

Joan moving up a tree
Joan moving up a tree

After the infamous Thomas fire in December 2017 raged across the Ranch, we had a lot more “features” on our trails. Now I call it my parcourse. A parcourse is typically an outdoor exercise track equipped with stations along the way where you can stop and perform a specific exercise. Our parcourse is our hiking trails. Our stations consist of what the forest gives us – fallen trees and branches to exercise our balance, trees to climb, tree branches to hang from and a natural jungle gym as a relic from the fire.

Moving and Aging

Willis moving on a fallen tree
Willis moving on a fallen tree
Manual gate entrance
Manual gate entrance

For a Hollywood boy, Willis has taken to the Ranch like a duck to water. His engineering background and creativity were  invaluable as he designed and implemented our water system (all we have is a well on the property.) Maintaining a 10-acre forest is not for the faint-hearted. He is my hero. He says his dream as a kid was to live on a deserted island where he would have to do everything. Seems like you have to be careful what you wish for!  For me, I love being able to step out the door and onto a hiking trail that takes me into a forest with awesome views from every angle. Above all, we share this paradise with birds, deer, coyotes, bobcats, squirrels and lots of insects. And everywhere we look, everything is moving, growing, and flourishing including us as we celebrate another birthday together in paradise.



  1. When we met we were all hardworking city dwellers. We have come a long way in our lives and I have so enjoyed visiting your Ranch and a dream come true for you both. You have definitely embraced all that you have created on the ranch. The fire was more than scary but look what you have gained out of it all. Yes, I agree, keep moving and enjoy the beautiful outdoors and all that it gives to you both. Love the pictures. Keep moving and enjoy each day.

  2. Love this excerpt— love you two. Always inspired to chase my dreams of someday living where I can be more outdoors more of the year.
    I too have a lot of “features” on my property… but often it’s just something blown from a neighbor’s lawn into mine. And sometimes I don’t even know it’s there for months until the weather permits truly getting out to explore what was left from Fall—“oh wow— there’s the bowl I’ve been missing— who left it out here?”
    It was great reading this too— always learning a little more about my family. Didn’t know Dad spent summers in Yosemite— I knew he went there, but not how often and that it was a whole family event every summer. Very cool to know.
    Beautiful pictures of you both— love seeing you exercising your primate gifts. Life’s an evolution. Happy Birthdays to you both!?

  3. Those are great pictures. You are both perfect examples of what I wanna be when I’m 80. Happy birthday to both of you again. I love you.

  4. Joan & Willis, you’re inspirational. Thank you for sharing your life of adventure & happiness.
    Warm wishes to you both.
    Pam & Mike

  5. Fantastic as usual, two monkeys! who took photo from above of you already
    high in tree? Willis?
    Keep up the good work and glad Bdays are celebrated but I must say not long
    enough. I have now gone from a week celebration to making the entire month
    a celebration. Join my club!
    Miss the Little House class but continue my 3xweek with Ronelle and walking.
    Love to you two! P. Lyn

  6. Joan, Love your “movement on the ranch story” and the pic of you and Willis seated at the table on the exercise balls – great for balance!
    Also love your style in teaching movement to us on Tuesday…just rolling along…expands my movement for sure!!!
    ❤️ Mary Ann

  7. Hi Joan …what a wonderful life and such inspiration! Wishing you many more birthdays together?

  8. So inspiring — this encourages me to get out and make some trails on our 5 acres!

  9. Thank you Joan for sharing your beautiful and uplifting story. You are blessed to have Willis, your family and an amazing place to live. You and the other Dynamic Aging ladies are an inspiration for myself at a mere 56 and my pilates/functional movement clients here in the New Forest, England to keep moving and enjoying the small pleasures in life….we have the birds, deer, squirrels and insects, but I think luckily no coyotes or bobcats!!! Please come visit us if ever you are in the UK.

  10. Thank you for this! I love your lifestyle and that you get to share it with your family and friends! How wonderful! Paradise is right! I recently turned 65 and will be moving in 2 days from the Philadelphia area to Greenville SC with the main goal of being active outside as much of the year as possible. I am done with Northeastern winters!! All the best to you for a continued active lifestyle for many years to come!!!!

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